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‘Take your children directly to Glangwili’ advice as Withybush’s Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit closes

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HYWEL DDA Health Board has confirmed that as part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit (PACU) at Withybush General Hospital has been converted into an Adult Urgent Care Assessment area.

The news means that parents of children with unknown urgent symptoms are asked to either contact their local GP, out of hours services via NHS 111, or take their child directly to Glangwili Hospital.

There will be no staff available to deal children with unknown urgent symptoms in children at Withybush Hospital.

The Health Board say that for children with emergency conditions, parents are still asked to dial 999.

But there has been concern as the number of ambulances serving the county of Pembrokeshire is mooted to be cut from 7 to 5.

The Health Board have released the following guidance on Monday (Sept 20): “To help keep you and your child safe at Glangwili Hospital, we have set up a new temporary Paediatric Assessment Area adjacent to the Emergency Department that will assess children in a separate facility to Adults. “This area is for children who attend from General Practitioners, Out of Hours, Welsh Ambulance and walk in admissions and will see children with illnesses.

“For injury, your child will be directed via minor injuries or Emergency Department.

The local ambulance service is under great pressure, with many crews spending long waits at the hospital (Pic Herald)

“Once an assessment has been made, if your child requires admission staff will explain that one parent can be resident on the ward, due to restrictions that we have imposed as part of our COVID-19 response.”

Mrs Paula Evans, Head of Nursing for Paediatrics and Neonates as said that: “We understand that families will be anxious at this time if their child becomes unwell or injured. COVID-19 is worrying but there may be other reasons why your child might be unwell and it is important not to delay in getting care and treatment.”

The Health Board added: “Your GP surgery can provide telephone triage and most have also introduced, or are in the process of introducing, an online consultation service called e-Consult.

“You can access this service by visiting your GP surgery’s website; follow the link to e-Consult then choose the ‘I want help for my child’ option.

“Our Health Visiting teams are also continuing to support families and new babies. If you are unable to reach your usual health visitor, please contact your local hub, Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm. Pembrokeshire residents should call 07766 992316.”

The Health Board are saying they are hoping to re-open the Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit (PACU) at Withybush General Hospital in the Spring of 2022.

UPDATE 20.09.2021 – 16:10

Hywel Dda University Health Board Deputy Chief Executive and Medical Director Dr Philip Kloer said:

“We will discuss our ability to deal with both the ongoing pandemic and to care for the increasing numbers of children very unwell, due to respiratory virus’ being experienced across the country, in the next full Board meeting of Hywel Dda University Health Board on 30th September 2021.

“This will include a recommendation for the clearest possible advice to our public about when and how they can access unplanned healthcare services for children.

“It is not a proposal to make a further change to children’s hospital services at Withybush Hospital, beyond considering if we continue the COVID-19 temporary position put in place in March 2020, for a further agreed period of time.

“This involved the temporary relocation of the Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit at Withybush Hospital to Glangwili Hospital, Carmarthen. During this period of time, if a child or young person under 16 is sick or injured, we would ask people to follow the advice issued

“Any decision about the provision of health care to children in our community will be based on their safety and will have their clinical interests as a priority. We will need to review the longer term future of paediatric services, next year, and we will consider a range of data, including patient and family experiences. We will also engage with and involve the community, as well as health care partners and public representatives, so they can share their views with us for consideration.

“A further update will be provided following the Board meeting.”

THIS STORY IS UPDATING, MORE TO FOLLOW

Health

A round up of Covid changes to measures and information

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FROM Today (Oct 12) Pembrokeshire County Council is urging the public to be vigilant following the important changes to the Covid-19 measures and information about the vaccination and testing programme.

To ensure our communities are aware, here’s a summary of what you need to know:

NHS COVID Pass:

From 11 October, you must use the NHS COVID Pass to show that you are fully vaccinated or have tested negative (through taking a lateral flow test 48 hours before event or attending venue) to attend large events, nightclubs and other similar venues.

You can get your NHS COVID Pass at: https://covid-status.service.nhsx.nhs.uk/.

You will need to register with the NHS before accessing your pass, please bear this in mind before any big event you’re planning to attend.

More information for businesses on the requirements for the NHS COVID Pass can be found on the Welsh Government website: https://gov.wales/reasonable-measures-action-cards-businesses-and-organisations-coronavirus

COVID-19 Testing for children and young people and for staff working in special schools and colleges:

From Monday 11 October, staff in primary schools, secondary schools and colleges and learners who are under 18 in secondary school and college who have a household member that has tested positive for COVID-19 should undertake daily lateral flow every day for seven days, in addition to PCR tests on Day 2 and Day 8.

This should start on the day a household contact is confirmed positive from a lateral flow or PCR test result.

Testing children under 5 years of age:

It is no longer recommended that children under 5 years of age take COVID-19 tests without symptoms.

Where children under 5 do have symptoms Welsh Government do not routinely recommend tests unless directed to do so by a doctor or if parents believe a test is absolutely necessary and in the best interests of the child.

Booster vaccines:

Those eligible for a booster vaccination will be invited to attend a Mass Vaccination Centre by Hywel Dda University Health Board (HDUHB) when it is their turn i.e. those who received their second vaccine dose more than six months ago.

You may have received an appointment at one of the HDUHB mass vaccination centres further away but you can attend your nearest centre at a time that suits you.

You won’t need to contact HDUHB beforehand. Please bring your appointment letter with you when you attend.

Vaccines for 12-15 year-olds:

12 -15 year-olds in Pembrokeshire are beginning to receive invites to attend a Mass Vaccination Centre by HDUHB when it is their turn.

You may have received an appointment at one of the HDUHB mass vaccination centres further away but you can attend your nearest centre at a time that suits you.

You won’t need to contact HDUHB beforehand. Please bring your appointment letter with you when you attend.

Not vaccinated yet?

You may have previously declined the vaccination but have since change your mind – there’s still time to get vaccinated. Walk-in clinics remain open at all Mass Vaccination Centres for those aged 16 and over who require a first or second dose.

Find your nearest centre here: https://hduhb.nhs.wales/healthcare/covid-19-information/covid-19-vaccination-programme/mass-vaccination-centres/

COVID-19 has not gone away and we all need to continue to play our part to keep Pembrokeshire and each other safe.

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Health

Hywel Dda Health Board: Visiting restrictions for Withybush Hospital

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DUE to increased cases of Covid-19 in hospital and the community, the decision has been made to close Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest to visitors with immediate effect.

Visiting will only be permitted in extenuating circumstances, such as end of life and critical visits. All visitors must carry out lateral flow device (LFD) test at home prior to travelling to the hospital.

Lateral flow self-test kits can be obtained by:

When visiting our hospitals please remember to wear a face mask, this will be replaced by a surgical face mask at reception or ward.

Please remember to maintain social distancing and to wash your hands as often as possible using soap and water and hand sanitiser.

The situation is being monitored at regular intervals and a further update will be made when visitor restrictions are lifted.

We thank everyone for your understanding at this time while we work to stop the spread of this virus.

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Health

New plan to keep Wales open and safe during “challenging” winter ahead

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The First Minister, Mark Drakeford, will today (Friday October 8) publish new plans to help keep Wales open and safe during the difficult autumn and winter months ahead.

The Welsh Government is publishing an updated Coronavirus Control Plan, which outlines the key actions, which could be put in place to control the spread of the virus.

Wales will remain at alert level zero for the next three weeks, following the latest review of the coronavirus regulations. This means all businesses are open and Wales has the lowest level of restrictions.

Speaking ahead of his press conference, First Minister Mark Drakeford said:

“We are facing a challenging winter ahead – coronavirus hasn’t gone away and flu is forecast to return this winter.

“Vaccination is the best defence we have against coronavirus – the more people who are fully vaccinated, the better our chances of controlling the spread of this awful virus.

“We will continue to focus our efforts on increasing take up of the Covid-19 vaccine across the age and priority groups and rolling out the booster vaccine too. We also encourage everyone who is eligible, to have their flu jab this year.

“There is also a range of other measures we can all take to help protect ourselves and our loved ones, such as washing our hands, reducing the number of people we meet and wearing a face covering in indoor public places.

“These measures have helped keep us safe throughout the pandemic and they will also help to protect us from other winter viruses, such as flu and other respiratory infections.”

The latest version of the Coronavirus Control Plan sets out two planning scenarios for the pandemic over the winter – in the first, called Covid Stable, Wales remains at alert level zero through the autumn and winter, with all businesses able to open.

This is thought to be the most likely scenario for the future, as we become used to living with coronavirus and we gradually move out of the pandemic to a position where the virus becomes a seasonal illness.

Under this scenario, if case rates fall, measures could be relaxed further in response, and if they rise, some existing measures could be strengthened to protect people’s health.

The second planning scenario, called Covid Urgent, is designed to deal with any sudden changes to the situation, caused by the emergence of a new, fast-spreading variant or if vaccine immunity levels fall, causing a rise in pandemic pressures, which risk overwhelming the NHS.

In such a scenario, the alert level system and restrictions would be used proportionately, but as a last-resort means, to protect people’s health, control the spread of infections and to protect the NHS.

Help keep Wales safe:

• Get your Covid-19 vaccines, including your booster when invited

• Get tested and self-isolate if you have symptoms

• Outdoors is safer than indoors

• Keep your distance when you can

• Wash your hands regularly

• Wear a face covering in indoor public places

• Keep indoor places well-ventilated

• Work from home whenever possible

• Use a Covid Pass in nightclubs and large events.

Commenting on the First Minister’s announcement Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said:

“Like the First Minister acknowledged, vaccinations have proven to be the key that unlocked society and the economy after severely weakening the link between infection and hospitalisation. To those who have yet to be vaccinated, we urge them to do so and those eligible to get a booster jab.

“However, while we remain at Level 0, new restrictions are coming in as the coercive, ineffective, and anti-business Covid passports will limit our freedoms, fail to limit the spread of coronavirus according to the Welsh Government’s own scientists, and add additional burdens on already stretched businesses.

“There has been a poor communication campaign from the Welsh Government on their introduction, little justification of their effectiveness, a failure to address confusion and fix bugs, and no explanation on how they will police the alternative Covid test system so open to abuse.

“We have passed the peak of infections without further restrictions and passports will do little to stem the problems that has led to the worst-ever A&E waiting times, longest ever NHS treatment backlog, and second slowest ambulance response times built up under Labour mismanagement.

“So instead of further restrictions, we need Labour ministers to bring forward a proper winter pressures plan that introduces the Covid treatment hubs for which Welsh Conservatives have long called for and reverse their damaging decision to bring in Covid passports.”

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